Far from campus, on the west side of town, a grey asphalt road winds through an industrial park. Driving slowly along it, you see a lone factory, smoke rising from it, and office parks. All are the same off-white. As you reach the end of the road, which wholeheartedly earns its name, Industrial Ave., you find a squat, tan building of corrugated steel. The sign out front is emblazoned with several corporate logos and reads “Albion Business Incubator.”
A business incubator works like the piece of medical equipment after which it’s named. It provides a space for start-up businesses to operate, allowing them to focus on their product or service in the business’ infancy.
An industrial park might be the last place an Albion College student might expect to find himself if he was trying to start a business in his college town. But the Albion Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is hoping students will be attracted to the opportunities the incubator holds for budding entrepreneurs.
Dan Gremore, ’04 alum and assistant director for the EDC, manages the business incubator project.
“In its purest form,” Gremore said, “a business incubator is a facility that allows people in the community, if they have an idea, to make that idea a reality in terms of a business.”
To ease the growing pains of fledgling businesses, the EDC’s incubator offers a variety of services to young businesses. Spaces as small as 500 square feet are available for businesses to set up shop, and one EDC company offers startups up to $2000 in pro bono legal advice.
The incubator project has been enjoying recent success. Two recent graduates of the incubator, Team 1 Plastics and Viking Satcom, employ over 100 people combined and operate in Albion.
Gremore hopes that these successes will further bolster community involvement in Albion’s commerce.
“If someone is thinking about creating a product, be it a staff or faculty member at Albion College or a member of the community, it is a great way to start a business at a lower risk,” Gremore said.
Gremore also noted that no students had yet pitched to him an idea for a business, but he is looking forward to it.